James “Whitey” Bulger wants the jury who will decide his fate to be sequestered when they begin deliberating whether he is guilty of the sweeping racketeering indictment he faces, which include allegations he participated in 19 murders.
Defense attorneys for Bulger filed the motion late Sunday night, setting the stage for the issue to be raised when his US District Court trial resumes on Monday and the defense begins presenting witnesses in the closely-watched trial.
In a five-page motion, defense attorneys J.W. Carney Jr. and Hank Brennan cited several of Globe columnist Kevin Cullen’s writings about Bulger and the witnesses who have testified against him as examples of the harsh criticism their client has faced from the media covering the trial.
“The nature of the publicity in this case is ... that the articles published about the defendant have extended far beyond mere recounting of testimony and have characterized the defendant in an extremely prejudicial manner,’’ the attorneys wrote.
Among those the Bulger defense team said could improperly influence the jury is one of Cullen’s columns that included his suggestion that a game show—called “The Biggest Scumbag”—be created following the testimony of former Bulger ally, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi.
Because of columns by Cullen, and coverage in other media, the Bulger lawyers urged US District Court Judge Denise J. Casper to keep jurors out of their homes, away from their families and without access to media coverage when they begin deliberations.
“It is imperative that the jury be free from the influence of the highly prejudicial commentary emanating from media outlets,’’ the lawyers wrote. “Although the jury was not sequestered during the trial and has been instructed not to read media reports, the defendant urges the Court to mandate the necessary precautionary measures to ensure that jury deliberations are conducted free from any influence from the media as to what the verdict ought to be.’’
US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office has not filed a response to the request.